British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has laid flowers at the scene of the fatal stabbing of MP David Amess, which police believe could be linked to Islamist extremism.
Mr Johnson, accompanied by Labour leader Keir Starmer, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle and Home Secretary Priti Patel, laid a wreath at the front of Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, where Mr Amess was killed on Friday.
It came after Scotland Yard said the country’s most senior counter-terror officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, has formally declared the incident as terrorism and said early investigations have revealed “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”.
Mr Amess, 69, who had been an MP since 1983, was fatally injured while meeting constituents.
A 25-year-old man arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder is in custody at an Essex police station.
Official sources told the PA news agency the man is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage.
As part of the investigation, officers are also carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met said.
Mr Amess’ death has prompted police forces to contact all MPs to discuss their security and personal safety.
Veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman said she will be writing to the Prime Minister asking him to back a Speaker’s Conference to review the safety of parliamentarians.
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who was hailed as a hero for his attempts to save the life of Pc Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack, said face-to-face meetings with MPs should be paused until a security review has been completed.
Investigators believe Mr Amess' killer acted alone and are not seeking anyone else in connection with his death.
According to reports, the knifeman was waiting among a group of people to see Mr Amess at the church and launched the attack shortly after the MP arrived.
MP engagement with the public:— Tobias Ellwood MP (@Tobias_Ellwood) October 16, 2021
This is a vital part of our work -our accessibility with the public.
But understandable huge anxiety amongst MPs now.
Until the Home Secretary’s review of MP security is complete I would recommend a temporary PAUSE in face to face meetings. pic.twitter.com/TUgf5zYTQP
Local councillor John Lamb, who arrived at the scene shortly after the incident, told the Daily Mail Mr Amess was with two female members of staff – one from his constituency office and one from his parliamentary office – when a man “literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him”.
Chief Constable of Essex Police Ben-Julian Harrington said the Southend West MP was “simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short”.
Tory veteran Mr Amess, who was described by Mr Johnson as “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics” was married with five children.
The attack came five-and-a-half years after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by a far-right extremist in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire.